In July, Jersey City Parking Authority Director Mary Spinello quietly set up a campaign account for the 2011 state senate Democratic primary in District 31.
Spinello, who was ushered out of her Ward B council seat and given the Parking Authority job to make way for now-former Councilman Phil Kenny, stocked the account with about $40,000 left over from her council fund and has left it mostly inactive since, giving charitable and political donations here and there but raising no additional money.
“When I stepped down from council to take my current position, I had to figure out what I was going to do with the money,” said Spinello.
But the presence of the account, first noticed only this week by two Hudson County political columnists, only heightened speculation that leaders of the Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) hope to challenge state Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham (D-Jersey City) a year and a half from now. County Executive Tom DeGise – whose appointment to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was blocked by Cunningham – has openly mused about the possibility of giving the coveted HCDO line to someone else.
Spinello, however, says that her account is not related to the intra-party maneuvering.
“Honestly, this was my decision," she said.
As to the likelihood that Spinello will actually run, she said it’s “not a done deal,” but it is “something I’ve thought about it.”
“Nothing for sure at this point, but you always like to keep your options open,” she said.
Nor will Spinello take a strong position on how she thinks Cunningham is performing as a first term senator.
“I think she’s doing ok. I only follow what is in the local papers at this point. I have some concerns about the dissension between her and the local governing entity. Hopefully everyone can be on the same page. We all need to be on the same page, especially in these financial times,” said Spinello. “I don’t think she’s done a poor job.”
DeGise said that he did not talk to Spinello to encourage her to run and had nothing to do with her setting up the account.
“I didn’t know until I saw it in the paper,” he said.